2 Minutes With ... Mike Weiss, VP of Music & Head of A&R at UnitedMasters

On working with BigXThePlug and Labrinth

Mike Weiss is a music industry executive with experience spanning A&R, artist management, marketing, strategy and operations. Currently, he is VP of music and head of A&R at UnitedMasters—a global independent company that provides distribution services and facilitates partnerships between artists and brands. 

In his time at the company, UnitedMasters has enjoyed significant success with artists like NLE Choppa, Tobe Nwigwe, Lil Tecca, 2kbaby and Nascar Aloe.

Mike started his career while at the University of Miami, where he booked concerts and managed local artists. He is a third-generation music industry professional, committed to fostering innovation for his current partners, artists and future execs. 

We spent two minutes with Mike to learn more about his background, creative inspirations and some recent work he's admired.

Mike, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I'm originally from Demarest, N.J., but lived in L.A. for 5 years and now I currently live in Manhattan.

Your earliest musical memory.

Music has always been a part of my life. I'm third generation in the music industry, so it's hard to pinpoint the singular earliest memory. That said, the first concert I remember vividly having an impact on me was Backstreet Boys and Tony Bennett at a showcase for Nickelodeon.

Your favorite bands/musicians today.

Always a tough one to answer! I'm not going to lie, I put a huge bias on the artists I work. If I had to say one I don't work for, Drake is the best and never misses. He's at the top for a reason. 

One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on, and why.

The album Imagination and the Misfit Kid by Labrinth, simply because of the amount of blood, sweat and tears that went into that project. We knew what this album could become, and in our little bubble we were heads down working to create the greatest project possible. To see the massive success of  "All For Us," "Mount Everest," and the rest of the album was validating and truly incredible.

A recent project you're proud of, and why.

BigXThePlug’s AMAR album has been amazing. When an album is still growing week after week, and when an artist goes global after barely being heard outside of Texas, you know you've got something special. We were able to take this one to No.1 on the Billboard HeatSeekers chart. There's nothing better.

One thing about how the music world is evolving that you're excited about.

I'm excited data is no longer the main driver or determining factor in signing artists. Those who put all of their eggs in that basket are not seeing the same results as they did a few years ago. It feels like A&R is going back to what it originally was: true artist development. It's not about who has the best analytics software anymore. It's about who has the best taste, creativity and art.

Someone else's work, in music or beyond, that you admired lately.

It has been really impressive to watch what the 10K team and Ice Spice have done lately. They have operated this rollout and campaign flawlessly. 

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

I highly recommend Bob Iger's The Ride of a Lifetime

An artist you admire outside the world of music.

Roy Linchenstein's style for me has always been distinct, clear—and his body of work carries real raw emotion. There's a darkness, but vibrant poppy-ness. We used his work as inspiration for Noah Cyrus' earlier stuff.

Your favorite fictional character.

I'd have to say the Joker. For me, it is difficult to compare the Joaquin Phoenix and Heath Ledger versions, but the character in itself is unquestionably one of the greatest.

Someone worth following on social media.

My partner Dave Melhado. He's a motivator, a winner and grounded. He knows what it takes to grind and be successful. Definitely recommend if you want inspirational content. Give him a follow.

Your main strength as a marketer/creative.

Helping artists realize their artistic vision while establishing a value proposition. It's important to understand who the artist is first and then build around that central focal point.

Your biggest weakness.

Probably not fully trusting or believing in myself as much as I should. Dealing with imposter syndrome is real.

Something people would find surprising about you.

I don't play any instruments and I'm a head of A&R. I played the trumpet for one year in the fourth grade and that's it.

One thing that always makes you happy.

Quality time with my wife, family and friends. 

One thing that always makes you sad.

When I feel like I can be doing better.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the music business.

I'd probably be a therapist or psychiatrist. I love understanding how people operate and helping them through emotional highs and lows. It comes into play working with artists and team members, especially when trying to bring out certain elements of their creativity.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a contributor for Muse by Clio. She's also a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Media, Communication, and Information.

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